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Old 10-19-2016, 11:40 AM   #1
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Dead simple engine winterizing

I have always been amused at the different systems and gimmicks that boaters post about on the subject of engine winterization. Everything from devices that attach to the top of your strainer to plumbing systems that attach to the raw water pickup piping/hoses.

None of that is necessary or even makes engine winterizing easier.

Almost every marine engine whether propulsion or genset has a raw water strainer on the intake system. If you don't have one, you probably need to install one. To winterize, simply close the seacock that feeds the strainer, open the top on the strainer, start the engine and then pour antifreeze into the top of the strainer until a strong pink color comes out of the exhaust.

Preferably do this on the hard, so after you shut the engine down, you can put the top back on the strainer and open the seacock. This lets the water that is trapped inside the ball run out. If you don't do that you can ruin your seacock when the water inside the ball freezes.

Now some of you will say- won't the engine starve for coolant and overheat or won't running the engine dry harm it. No and no. At idle the engine produces very little heat and the few gallons of antifreeze going through will cool it fine. Running dry for a few seconds won't harm the engine either, particularly with antifreeze lubricating the impeller.

If you try this and your engine won't suck up the antifreeze, then you need a new impeller. I tried this procedure on my genset and couldn't get it to suck up antifreeze. So I pulled the cover off of the raw water pump and found half the vanes missing. Replaced the impeller and it sucked that antifreeze right up.

So, if installing aids to let you antifreeze your engine makes you happy, well fine. It won't make it any easier.

David
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Old 10-19-2016, 11:55 AM   #2
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I had a knowledgeable person recommend hooking a low pressure air line to the water intake and blow all the liquid out of the engine to store it for the winter.
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Old 10-19-2016, 12:55 PM   #3
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David that method works on an engines positive displacement pump. For a/c centrifugal circulating pumps you need the funnel to raise the head of the anti-freeze to feed the pump.
Drain hot water heaters, disconnect suction and discharge hoses on potable water pump and operate to blow any water out of pump housing. I gravity dump my FW system and place electric heaters with freeze settings. We leave the boat in the water thru Winter and the water temperature rarely gets near freezing so compartments below the water line are near water temperatures.
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Old 10-19-2016, 01:03 PM   #4
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I had a knowledgeable person recommend hooking a low pressure air line to the water intake and blow all the liquid out of the engine to store it for the winter.
I prefer the antifreeze method as it takes care of low spots at can't clear and if water or condensation does form and drain to low spots, there is antifreeze there already. If air pockets can form in many engines after changing coolant, I would be worried pockets of water could remain just by blowing out a system.

For some systems I'd you know what you are doing, blowing them out first eliminates a lot of required antifreeze...but I still like to use it in case of low spots or condensation.
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Old 10-19-2016, 01:23 PM   #5
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My easy method is: take hose off strainer, attach to hose going to bucket of anti-freeze, start engine (or ac pump), let a certain amount flow through - done.

I do the same thing for the water system. Bypass and drain HW heater. Drain water tanks. Attach hose at water tank to bucket of anti-freeze. Open one faucet at a time till strong pink is flowing. - done.

I use a small hand pump to empty and then clean out strainers.

Ken
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Old 10-19-2016, 01:25 PM   #6
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Go south for the winter. Problem solved!!
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Old 10-19-2016, 01:35 PM   #7
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My easy method is: take hose off strainer, attach to hose going to bucket of anti-freeze, start engine (or ac pump), let a certain amount flow through - done.

I do the same thing for the water system. Bypass and drain HW heater. Drain water tanks. Attach hose at water tank to bucket of anti-freeze. Open one faucet at a time till strong pink is flowing. - done.

I use a small hand pump to empty and then clean out strainers.

Ken
I also follow this method
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Old 10-19-2016, 03:02 PM   #8
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I had a knowledgeable person recommend hooking a low pressure air line to the water intake and blow all the liquid out of the engine to store it for the winter.
Don't recommend this. I did this with the jet boat behind the house. Water was left behind in a few pockets and froze. Kissed that engine goodbye.
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Old 10-19-2016, 03:59 PM   #9
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In SWFL, I get to SUMMERIZE!
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Old 10-19-2016, 07:32 PM   #10
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In SWFL, I get to SUMMERIZE!
Lucky me. I get to do that too.
Yes for that it's safe to blow out the engine. (Though I don't know why you would)
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Old 10-19-2016, 07:50 PM   #11
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Greetings,
Only 10 posts? Much too early to summarize. Got to have at least 75 posts. 15 on topic, 30 describing what is wrong with the other 29 suggestions, 20 suggesting the best and worst materials and 10 smug comments regarding the benefits of living somewhere warm.

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Old 10-20-2016, 07:01 AM   #12
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Greetings,
Only 10 posts? Much too early to summarize. Got to have at least 75 posts. 15 on topic, 30 describing what is wrong with the other 29 suggestions, 20 suggesting the best and worst materials and 10 smug comments regarding the benefits of living somewhere warm.
It is also too early to post a brief statement describing the main points of this thread.
Perhaps in an hour or two....
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Old 10-20-2016, 07:26 AM   #13
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I had a knowledgeable person recommend hooking a low pressure air line to the water intake and blow all the liquid out of the engine to store it for the winter.
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Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
I prefer the antifreeze method as it takes care of low spots at can't clear and if water or condensation does form and drain to low spots, there is antifreeze there already. If air pockets can form in many engines after changing coolant, I would be worried pockets of water could remain just by blowing out a system.
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Don't recommend this. I did this with the jet boat behind the house. Water was left behind in a few pockets and froze. Kissed that engine goodbye.

Yeah, I use air pressure to clear our freshwater systems, but wouldn't do that with engines or genset...

-Chris
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Old 10-20-2016, 09:21 AM   #14
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There is another method. Put the boat in heated storage for the winter. Of course, our local yards that keep boats in heated storage do winterize all systems just in case.
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Old 10-20-2016, 09:21 AM   #15
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On a cold engine will not most of the antifreeze go out the exhaust because the thermostat is closed?
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Old 10-20-2016, 09:27 AM   #16
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I use method in post #5 for engine and generator.
I did add a brass tee to sea cock side of AC strainer with brass hose cap. I install a 3/4 x 3/8" hose into bucket to suck up 50/50 fluid. I disconnect the potable water pump at suction hose from tank and use the same hose to do the potable water system. I have the bypass hose and valves on the hot water heater. I vacuum out all strainers and bilge of any water. I pour a couple gallons of 50/50 in the bilge and actuate the bilge pump switches.
Once complete I'm Ready for winter and any projects I have been putting off during the summer season.
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Old 10-20-2016, 09:53 AM   #17
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My easy method is: take hose off strainer, attach to hose going to bucket of anti-freeze, start engine (or ac pump), let a certain amount flow through - done.
Same here. 5 gallon bucket, an extra length of hose, and a few gallons of pink stuff through the engines. I also keep bilge heaters on and the water never freezes, so probably overkill, but better safe than sorry.
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Old 10-20-2016, 09:59 AM   #18
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I winterize a ton of boats and am the guy liable for them not freezing up.

1- Many boats can suck a strainer dry faster than you can physically pour the bottle, even at idle. Seeing as the strainer outlet is at the top this method is problematic on many boats.

2- Many boats do not have any space to physically pour the PG into the strainer.

3- Unless you are physically testing what comes out of the stern, and comparing it to the bottle with a refractometer, you have not properly winterized the engine you have merely guessed at it. If you don't have a refractometer just suck in more. Heck even for small sailboat engines Westerbeke recommends a five gallon bucket of AF. My own Westerbeke 44B takes 5.5 gallons to match bottle strength.

4- Pulling the hose off the strainer inlet and attaching a winterizing hose fed to a 5 gallon bucket is more consistent, with no spills, and allows you to physically capture samples at the stern while still sucking it into the engine. I've yet to come across an intake hose I could not remove in a few minutes plus I get to examine the hose clamps while I am at it. If you graduate your 5 gallon bucket with a Sharpie marker, at one gallon increments, you will know exactly how much has been sucked in when you sample the exhaust.

5- Samples out the stern should match the bottle strength as measured by a refractometer. If the virgin bottle sample reads 8F then what comes out the stern should also read 8F. Diluting PG antifreeze, which has already been diluted at the factory, leads to freeze ups which get very costly. Rarely does a spring go by where I don't have a call for a frozen and split heat exchanger etc.. PG is cheap, suck more in if you plan to guess at it.

6- I have numerous power vessels that take over 10 gallons per engine to match bottle strength. Each vessel gets a winterizing spec sheet for gallons per engine, FW system, AC system, generator, raw water wash down, etc.. I also record fitting sizes so I bring the correct adapters and hoses. This way there is no wasted AF the following years, and no guesswork. The winterizing method which involves simply "seeing pink" is a dangerous slope. I can't tell you how many times I have heard "But I saw pink." after I have just diagnosed a frozen & split HX...

This owner "saw pink" he also wrote a big fat check for a new HX come spring. This is what was in the system..



PG is cheap engine components are not.. Winterize carefully..
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Old 10-20-2016, 10:25 AM   #19
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I just winterized our 41' President with 225 Lehmans. When we saw the blue coming out the exhaust we had put 5 gallons of -100 in. Testing it then with the refractometer, it tested only to 0. It took another 5 gallons to get to -30. We used the Sea Flush adapter that goes into the strainer, very easy to use. No way I could have kept up pouring the AF into the strainer manually. For the A/Cs and the generator, I could not fit the Sea Flush due to the location of the strainers. I got some adapters that screwed into the strainers and hooked up a garden hose to a bucket. In all I ended up using 48 gallons of -100 AF to do the 2 engines, generator, A/Cs, water system, heads, seawater washdown, bilge pumps and drains. It took a lot more that I expected, but by testing each outlet until we got at least -20 that was what it took. Still cheaper than frozen and cracked stuff.
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Old 10-20-2016, 11:37 AM   #20
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On a cold engine will not most of the antifreeze go out the exhaust because the thermostat is closed?
We only winterize the raw water circuit. No thermostat involved.

The coolant circuit is already 50/50 antifreeze/water and ok for the winter.
(That's the mix we use in the CT area, good for approx -34F. Other areas may use a different mix).
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